Why is Microsoft Teams not on Xbox? Blame Skype and Kinect

Laurent Giret

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As Microsoft Teams is about to turn five, the app has become pretty much ubiquitous. Windows 11 now ships with a new Chat app powered by Microsoft Teams, and the software giant is apparently serious about making “Teams for consumers” a real thing.

With Microsoft Mesh, Teams will also play a key role in Microsoft’s ambition for the metaverse, with immersive meetings that may blur the lines with some video games experiences. You may think that there could be several use cases for Microsoft Teams on Xbox consoles already, but Microsoft is apparently seeing this differently.

Over the weekend, technology journalist Mary Branscombe asked a question about the absence of Teams on Xbox to Microsoft CVP Omar Shahine, and she got a pretty straightforward answer from Ilya Bukshteyn, General Manager, Microsoft Teams Devices.

According to Bukshteyn, bringing Teams to Xbox is currently not worth the effort. “Skype use on Xbox was very low, and there are fewer and fewer people with a Kinect now,” Bukshteyn said on Twitter. It’s true that Microsoft stopped manufacturing Kinect years ago, and the accessory is also unsupported on Xbox Series X|S consoles.

Skype was a big part of Microsoft’s vision for the Xbox One and Kinect back in 2013, with the Xbox OS allowing gamers to control Skype with voice commands and even snap the app on one side of the screen while in-game. The Snap feature eventually disappeared and Skype on Xbox is now a UWP app that hasn’t been updated in years.

Thanks to Microsoft’s new Edge browser on Xbox, it is actually possible to access the web version of Microsoft Teams on the consoles, but just like the Discord web app, this isn’t something that gamers will want to use. The Xbox OS already has built-in Xbox party chat with cool accessibility features such as speech-to-text and text-to-speech options.

It’s still fun to imagine trying to use an Xbox console for something it’s not really meant for, and Microsoft Edge on Xbox currently allows a lot of experimentation thanks to mouse and keyboard support. However, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see Microsoft release native apps for Teams or Office on Xbox consoles.